Fly On The Wall: The Slap

Will Smith is not holding the Oscar; the Oscar is standing in front of him. His B-Boy dance is as good as Crazy Legs, the Bronx dancer who perfected the dance. A crowd is gathered around the two. Oscar does a little Lindy Hop move as a nod to tradition, picking up Will and flipping him over his shoulder. The people shout, “Go Oscar go.” But then a life-sized dollar bill cuts in. Shows that it has some moves too. Smartphone rings so loudly that it almost bounces off the table.

Will wakes up. He’s gripping the Oscar, sliding his hand up and down on it.

WILL: Who the fuck is calling me at 6 a.m. I’m Will Smith. I just won an Oscar—

ACADEMY: This is the Academy, asshole.

WILL: (Wakes real quick). O, sorry, Sir. Didn’t recognize your voice.

ACADEMY: What was that shit you pulled last night?

WILL: I see it as my duty to defend Black women wherever they might be. Chris Rock insulted my wife. Both Black and white women applauded my gallantry. Gave their approval to my battering a Black man before a worldwide audience. Even feminists. They said that in this case battery was ok.

ACADEMY: Bullshit. You laughed at the joke. You embarrassed the Academy all over the world. We got that name Academy from the Greeks to show that we’re not some cheap outfit pushing car chases and big-screen video games and PlayStations. We have class, yet here you come messing with our image. I thought that you people would keep that Black-on-Black crime shit in the streets. No, you had to bring that crap into our august surroundings. You frightened Nicole Kidman.

WILL: But it was a question of my manhood.

ACADEMY: Even the Williams’ father, a certifiable nut, said that you were wrong. I was the one who recommended that we allow you Black Americans to be admitted to the awards ceremony in the first place. Others were against it. They said that you were violent and I’d regret it. You didn’t see the Nigerian actors up there on the stage punching each other out. One of them was dressed like a lion tamer. And the Latinos put on a great show and whatever complaints they had about Tony Kushner and Steve Spielberg’s view of Puerto Rican life, they kept to themselves. And the women cooperated. Gave up that #MeToo shit for the evening. They showed their tits and asses. And Regina Hall gave those actors a pat-down in their private places. You had to blow it. Now I could kick myself for promoting diversity. It was my idea to let Black people escort the Oscar winners on and off the stage. I hired 3 women comedians to narrate the show even though we had trouble getting one down and out of her flying-harness rigging. And what thanks do I get. And we’re going to lose money on that film where you play a guy who gives his organs away. Every time they see that movie they’re going to think of you assaulting Chris Rock, a little guy. And then you started cussing.

WILL: I thought that you blipped that out.

ACADEMY: It got through in some countries. Parents had to hide their children. And then you got up and made that weeping incoherent speech, the most self-pitying speech since Nixon’s when he lost the California governorship. They asked you to leave and you refused. You’re lucky that we didn’t call the cops. Look Smith. We made you and we can break you.

WILL: What should I do, Sir?

ACADEMY: You apologize to Chris Rock.

WILL: What? I have my pride.

Academy: Well we’ll get one of those Nigerian fellows to do your next film. The Nigerians studied acting in England.

WILL: But—

ACADEMY: You don’t like the Hollywood lifestyle? $42m Calabasas home? The cars: Maybach 57 S, Rolls Royce Ghost, the Bentley Azure, the 1965 Ford Mustang?

WILL: Ok. Ok. I’ll write an apology.

ACADEMY: It’s written. Check your in-box.

(Hangs up.)

The End

Ishmael Reed’s latest play is “The Conductor.”